Monday Motivation

As the tagline for this blog points out, ‘we are a military family sailing by the seat of our pants’. Therefore, when I saw this quote, I immediately felt it in my bones:

“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” —General George Patton

We are learning as we go. We are not boat experts, or salty sailors, or even semi-experienced cruisers. Yes, it is scary. We could have waited to live this life until we felt more prepared, had better timing, weren’t raising a toddler, no longer in the military…waiting, waiting, waiting…

What we have is messy, sometimes chaotic, difficult, and time-consuming. Constant learning curves, fixing what breaks, and always getting interrupted whenever we settle into a routine. It is decidedly not perfect, but it doesn’t have to be. I would take this life a million times over rather than still be in the planning phase, too afraid to pull the trigger until I answered all the ‘what-ifs’ that kept me up at night.

Right now I’m reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. It is mostly about writing, but her advice for creative living beyond fear is also applicable to liveaboard life, or for anyone who yearns to live passionately.

She says: “And you have treasures hidden within you—extraordinary treasures—and so do I, and so does everyone around us. And bringing these treasures to light takes work and faith and focus and courage and hours of devotion and the clock is ticking, and the world is spinning, and we simply do not have time anymore to think so small.”

So if you have faith and focus and courage and devotion, you already have the tools you need to put your plan into action. Figure it out as you go, but don’t wait forever to make the decision. What would you do if you were not afraid?

 

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

motivation

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Keeping Boat Baby Busy

People who find out we live on a boat: “How do you deal with a toddler in such a small space?”

Me: “How do you keep track of your toddler in such a large space?”

But really, I think no matter where you live, entertaining a toddler is hard work. This is the struggle that all parents face, the never-ending question of “What are we going to DO today?”

Pros for living on a boat with a toddler:

  • I’m never more than 10 feet from her at any given time
  • Boat-proofed is automatically baby-proofed. Everything is latched, furniture is built in, and corners are rounded.
  • A lot of time spent outdoors
  • When we are all on the boat, we are all hanging out together!
  • Don’t have tons of toys underfoot
  • Everything is spill-proof and waterproof

Cons:

  • I’m never more than 10 feet from her at any given time
  • Silence is never an option
  • Deck time always involves a lifejacket
  • No space indoors to run her ragged

The last con is the biggest hurdle for us. How do I make sure my toddler burns off enough energy when she can’t run around outside due to weather? Summer here is challenging. 105 degree days with sudden thunderstorms. Here’s what we do to fill our week and get off the boat:

Early morning walks (most mornings) with an hour pit stop at the park. It is usually cool and shaded enough until 9 am. W can climb to her heart’s content while Scout and I get some exercise.

Story time at Barnes&Noble. Music, books, and socialization with kids. Plus, it is air-conditioned and there is an indoor play area at the other end of the mall. More things to climb.

Tot Time on base, or as W calls it, “T-T!” There is a 2-hour ‘free play’ for kids under 2 in one of the community center gyms on Camp Lejeune. Different toys and socialization time in the AC!

Gymnastics on Thursdays in the ‘Mommy and Me’ class. I think this one is her favorite. By the time the hour class is done, she usually falls asleep in the car.

Starbucks usually precedes a trip to the grocery store. Caffeine boost for Mom and a croissant for W! A good place to hang and people watch.

Library visits are also a favorite. We frequent two that are on base. They have separate kids rooms with puzzles and play structures, too!

Pool time is reserved for super-hot afternoons and extra-energy days. W likes the shaded kiddy pool, and 1 hr after playing in that she’s ready for bed.

Beach days are the best, but less frequent due to the absolute mess involved (read: SAND EVERYWHERE) but we usually go at least once per week. Conor loves doing this with her, so it is usually on the weekend.

Deck time will also entertain W for a while, as long as there is ice involved! Easiest entertainment ever: Get a bag of ice. Put out bowls of different sizes. Give toddler a big spoon. Have her move ice to various containers. When it melts, no cleanup needed! I don’t know why this is so amusing, but W loves it.

tot time
Ice Ice Baby

These are the big ones. When we are on the boat, we play games, sing songs, build block towers, read books, color, play pretend with baby doll, and try to empty various cabinets.

How do you entertain your toddler? Give me ideas below!

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

Pop Quiz

How do we know summer is in full swing? Is it because:

A) We try to BBQ every meal

B) We are sweaty all the time

C) Boat work the whole weekend

D) My feet look like this:

feet

E) All the above.

If you answered ‘All the above’, you are correct! Hot days, humid nights, and incredible tan lines. You should see Conor’s redneck tank top tan. We have been hard at work doing annual maintenance as well as getting another step closer to cruising!

The work these past few weeks started out with an incentive to get our Coast Guard safety certification. This is a sticker that goes on our boat that shows we have already met with an agent and they have pre-examined our boat for things like fire extinguishers, battery covers, pollution stickers, etc. This is so if we get boarded by the Coast Guard later on, they just have to examine our paperwork real quick and we can be on our way! Also, we might be able to get a discount on our insurance if we have the certification.

Sounds like a great plan, right? We were mostly good to go, except for the battery covers. This led to, “Well, if we are going to replace the batteries soon anyway, why would we get covers for the old ones?” So what did we decide to do? Get new batteries instead 😊

With three trips to West Marine in less than a week, we got rid of our old flooded batteries and installed fancy AGM batteries! And when I say, “we installed”, I mean Conor did the heavy lifting and I sat up on the stairs and held the flashlight.

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Actually, I did scrub the corrosion off the old cables with baking soda and water!
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Guess how much these cost? $350 a pop. Boats ain’t cheap!

This undertaking has been on our to-do list for quite some time but became especially urgent after our Memorial Day anchor out and our discovery of how quickly our old batteries drained. Conor spent a few days reading up on electrical systems and how to avoid shocking himself before getting it all up and running. I’m so proud of how much he has learned!

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Can’t do boat work without this bible

One piece at a time, and soon we will be experts on every boat system. I’m happy we have had the opportunity to go slow and tackle repairs as they come up instead of doing it all at once. In just the two years we’ve owned the boat, our major replacements include upgrading the toilet, replacing the A.C. unit, installing cabin fans, customizing our hatch doors, and now installing new batteries.

And if you’re wondering, we passed our inspection with flying colors! Time to relax with a beer this weekend. Hope you all had a safe and happy Fourth!

safetycheck

 

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

Just Keep Sailing!

Dory in her infinite wisdom advises us to “Just keep swimming!” when we are at a low point. We took her words to heart this weekend but modified them a bit. Our motto: “Just keep sailing!”

On Saturday we participated in the Ragged Point Yacht Club Father’s Day race event. It had been a few weeks since Story Time had been off the dock, and I think it was exactly what our family needed. Fun times with friends and a great day doing what we love! Though Conor has crewed on other boats for RPYC races, this was the first race with our own boat. Our wonderful friend Zach joined us in case Baby W didn’t want to cooperate and I had to switch to baby duty partway through.

There were six boats from Gottschalk that participated in the race. Our boat is supposedly the fastest, so during the staggered start we were last off the block with an 11-minute delay. Right as the race started, the wind pretty much died and everyone had a slow first 30 min. It was still pretty wonderful to look out at so many boats though! We were like the Gottschalk Armada on the river.

Rounding the first marker, the wind started to pick up and things got exciting. We were neck and neck with another boat but didn’t realize we were edging too far away from the channel. Just as we were flying toward the second marker, BUMP!

We hit bottom. Oops! Thankfully New River is muddy sludge on the bottom so it was a soft and slow impact. Conor tried to wiggle us off with the rudder and the wind, but no luck. He had to turn the engine on to get the boat free, which means an automatic DQ. We were bummed to have to drop out, but we will know better for next time.

The smallest boat ended up winning! Que Pasa and crew sailed a great race. If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at sailing or learn the ropes, PLEASE reach out to us or anyone at the Ragged Point Yacht Club! We would love to have you on board for the next race.

 

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

 

Anchors Aweigh!

We decided to do our first anchor out over Memorial Day. We had been looking forward to it for weeks, but come the actual day, a few elements were working against us—no wind, 100% humidity, and a heat index of 104 degrees. Sounds like a great day to experience life on the hook, right?

anchorout
Story Time at anchor!

We debated all day whether to leave the dock, until finally we decided that we would rather regret doing it than not doing it. Conor so rarely has enough time off to attempt a trip like this and we couldn’t let the opportunity pass.

At 6pm we set out. I know I’m making this sound like a grand adventure, but we were literally going around the corner to Hospital Point. Just out of sight of the marina so we felt like we were anchored somewhere exotic, but still a 20 minute dinghy ride back. It was important to keep the anchor spot as local as possible in case something went wrong and we needed to return ASAP. The other purpose was to test the systems (windlass, night lights, anchor light, battery life, etc.) and check that everything worked before we planned longer excursion later this summer.

Before we left, Conor also downloaded an anchor app that alerts you when you drift so many meters from your starting position. That way, if your anchor comes loose and you start dragging toward shore, the alarm will wake you up before you run aground. We were also equipped with these wonderful wind scoops that look like teeny tiny spinnakers. They redirect the wind down into the cabin for some nice airflow.

windscoop

By 7 pm we dropped anchor and watched the sunset. The wind picked up and cooled us off while we watched dolphins hunt their dinner. W had her bath up in the cockpit before being rocked to sleep by the waves. For a few hours, anchoring out was every bit the experience we had hoped for.

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anchorout4

Then the wind died at 10pm, and holy hell was it a long, hot night. FYI, wind scoops only work when there’s a breeze. There were no bugs, thankfully, but even with every window thrown open we were sweating it out. W woke up when the sky lightened at 5:15 am, so the whole family was pretty tired.

Watching that sun rise, though, was indescribable. It was a different feeling than being in our cockpit on the dock. It really did feel like an escape from day-to-day life. W thought it was hilarious that we were still out on the river and ran to and from the bow while Conor and I sipped our coffee. Fun fact: Memorial Day last year was W’s first-ever sail! It was amazing to see how far we’ve come as a family and how comfortable she is on the boat now.

Scout needed her morning potty, so the family took a dinghy ride to shore. On the way back, W fell asleep standing up with her head in my lap! Poor baby had too much excitement for one weekend. I put her down for a nap on the boat and we headed back to Gottschalk.

anchorout2
W passed out standing up while riding the dinghy. Life skills.

All in all, we had a great time despite the weather. All our systems worked, but I need to look at our battery life. Our house battery was almost dead after only 16 hours, so we need to get better at conserving energy and utilizing our solar panel and wind generator to their full extent. It’s a learning process, but I’m proud that we checked off this important step.

 

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

Ding Ding Ding! Dinghy Time

Our dinghy is FINALLY in the water. It has been dry-docked for almost two years. I was too pregnant to bounce around in it when we first arrived at Gottschalk in the fall of 2017, then last summer W did not have the head control to ride in it, but this summer we plan on taking full advantage of it!

The dingy needed a good scrub and a few minutes with an air compressor, but she looks as good as new now. However, our outboard motor had some issues after lying stagnant for so long. We had trouble starting it because, as we later found out, there was debris in the carburetor. Whoops! I blame that on Hurricane Florence.

The marina manager, Sammy, has tons of experience with outboard motors and was willing to fix it right up for us. We know what to look for next time!

We took a family ride for the first time and I was kind of amazed at how quick and easy it was to get out on the water. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE sailing, but it usually takes a lot more forethought, set up, and lines to leave our slip. It was so quick to just pop the family right in the dingy and in two seconds we were gone! We were able to explore some of the shallow creek area for the first time that is off-limits to bigger boats. I foresee many sunset trips out there in the coming months.

dinghy
My handsome captain out on the water

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

JOMO

I learned a new phrase the other day—JOMO. It is the opposite of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and means the JOY of missing out. As introverts, Conor and I experience JOMO all the time while we retreat into our own hobbies. He plays video games while I write, and we don’t miss hitting the town on Saturday nights.

However, when it comes to cruising/sailing, we are a little envious of people who have already cut ties with the 9-5 (or in the military life, 7-6). It is hard to wait for our time to go and there is some serious FOMO when we look at boats anchored in crystal clear water next to deserted islands. Can we go now? What experiences are we missing by being in North Carolina still? Those sailors look like they’re having an incredible time. When will that finally be us?

But if we were already cruising, we would miss out on so much here. Grilled pizza date nights that turn into impromptu dock parties with 8 other liveaboards until 10 pm. Game of Thrones watch parties on the boat with not enough room on the couch. W going to her first gymnastics class and showing off her sea legs as she fearlessly traverses the balance beam. Conor getting his JTAC-E certification. Time to write with book #2 coming out and halfway through drafting book #3.

datenight
Corri said, “Look cute, guys, so you can put this on the blog!” This was our response.

There is something to be said for stability and routine and finding joy in the present. We are focusing on turning our cruising FOMO into JOMO as we hang dockside for a little longer. Summers are SO fun here and we have many marina adventures to look forward to.

 

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W